The town was first divided into districts (moughataa) in 1973. First it was divided into four. From 1986, the city has been split into nine districts.
  • Arafat
  • Dar Naim
  • El Mina
  • Ksar
  • Riad
  • Sebkha
  • Tevragh-Zeina
  • Teyarett
  • Toujounine


For comparison, its population was only 20,000 in 1969 and 150,000 in 1980. Part of the difficulty in estimating the city's population is that part of it is literally nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic, setting up tents in suitable locations, then packing up when the need strikes. Some estimates put the 2008 population at over 2 million; more conservative estimates put that number at 800,000, itself estimated to be close to one-third of the country's population.

Slum resettlement

In 2009, the government of Mauritania announced that it would begin a process of clearing the slum on the outskirts of Nouakchott. 24,000 families would eventually be relocated to planned housing within the city. The process is scheduled to begin with the relocation of 9,000 families from the outskirts into the poor Arafat department neighbourhood of "Kosovo", popularly named for its high crime rate and poor services. The government plans to begin moving families in June 2009 despite concerns from aid agencies that needed infrastructure cannot be put in place in the receiving neighbourhood.

Infrastructure and administration

Nouakchott has a deep-sea port, opened in 1986, primarily used for imports. Annually, imports account for around 96.4% of traffic at the port. It handles 500,000–800,000 tonnes of cargo a year. Recently, China has agreed to invest US$282 million in the port, aiming to extend the main quay, the deepwater Quay of Friendship, by 500 m (1,640.42 ft). A 1100 kilometres (683.5 mi) road connects the city with Néma
Néma is a town in southeastern Mauritania, close to the border with Mali. It is located at around . It is the capital of Hodh Ech Chargui Region and of the Néma Department....

 via Boutilimit
Boutilimit lies 164 km south east of Mauritania's capital of Nouakchott. The town has been an important center of religious scholarship and training since its founding by an Islamic mystic and scholar in the 19th Century. Although desertification has sapped much of the community's economic energy,...

 and Kiffa
Kiffa is a city and department in south-central Mauritania. Kiffa is capital of Assaba Region. It is located at around .It is famous for its antique Kiffa beads....

. The city also features an international airport
An airport is a location where aircraft such as fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and blimps take off and land. Aircraft may be stored or maintained at an airport...

, Nouakchott International Airport
Nouakchott International Airport
Nouakchott International Airport is an airport located in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. Until late 2010, it served as hub of Mauritania Airways...

Road transport is problematic, the main problem being overcrowded roads. Fuel for cars is also hard to obtain in Nouakchott.

An agreement was signed on August 5, 2007 between Mauritania, Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, and China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 to build $630m Mauritania Railway linking the port of Nouakchott and phosphate mines at Bofal
Bofal is a small town in southern Mauritania. There are phosphate deposits in the vicinity. It lies near the southern border formed by the Senegal River- Transport :...

, about 430 km away. The line goes near the border with Senegal
Senegal , officially the Republic of Senegal , is a country in western Africa. It owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north...


The city is home to the US Embassy. , it is the home to over 30 international or diplomatic institutions.


In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base. They are composed of cations and anions so that the product is electrically neutral...

, cement
In the most general sense of the word, a cement is a binder, a substance that sets and hardens independently, and can bind other materials together. The word "cement" traces to the Romans, who used the term opus caementicium to describe masonry resembling modern concrete that was made from crushed...

, insecticide
An insecticide is a pesticide used against insects. They include ovicides and larvicides used against the eggs and larvae of insects respectively. Insecticides are used in agriculture, medicine, industry and the household. The use of insecticides is believed to be one of the major factors behind...

s, rug
RUG or rug can mean:* carpet, a textile floor covering that is made from various materials.** specifically, one made by rug making* slang for toupee* rug , to keep domesticated animals warm and/or dry...

s, carpet
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

s, embroidery
Embroidery is the art or handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. Embroidery may also incorporate other materials such as metal strips, pearls, beads, quills, and sequins....

, and craft
A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work. In historical sense, particularly as pertinent to the Medieval history and earlier, the term is usually applied towards people occupied in small-scale production of goods.-Development from the past until...

 products are produced in Nouakchott, with the port also exporting copper
Copper is a chemical element with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. Pure copper is soft and malleable; an exposed surface has a reddish-orange tarnish...

. , there are over 30 small or middle-sized factories in the city. Administration and financial enterprises are also important. The airline Mauritania Airways
Mauritania Airways
Mauritania Airways S.A. was an airline based in Nouakchott, Mauritania, operating out of Nouakchott International Airport.-History:The company was established in December 2006, but made its first flight only on 7 November 2007...

 has its head office in the city. When Air Mauritanie
Air Mauritanie
Air Mauritanie was an airline based in Nouakchott, Mauritania. It was the national airline and operated domestic and regional services. A VIP-configured Boeing 727-200 was flown for the Mauritanian government. Its main base was Nouakchott International Airport....

 existed, its head office was in the city.

Fresh water

Although the rocks beneath the city contained a vast reservoir of fresh water
Fresh Water
Fresh Water is the debut album by Australian rock and blues singer Alison McCallum, released in 1972. Rare for an Australian artist at the time, it came in a gatefold sleeve...

, known as the Trarza Lake, fresh water is running out, owing to the large growth of the city. Engineers have warned it could run out by 2054, since it is not rain-fed, and is therefore non-renewable. The problem is particularly bad in the sandy shanty towns where the majority of the population lives.

Many people already have to buy water, which is expensive compared with the average wage in the city.


The city is home to the Université de Nouakchott, which is the only university in Mauritania
Mauritania is a country in the Maghreb and West Africa. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west, by Western Sahara in the north, by Algeria in the northeast, by Mali in the east and southeast, and by Senegal in the southwest...

 and was opened in 1981. Approximately 8000 students study there, and it has a considerable impact on the city, according to some. Other higher education facilities include the National School of Administration, and the National Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies. There are many primary and secondary schools, and an American International School of Nouakchott.

Culture and religion

Attractions in Nouakchott include Nouakchott Museum, several market
A market is one of many varieties of systems, institutions, procedures, social relations and infrastructures whereby parties engage in exchange. While parties may exchange goods and services by barter, most markets rely on sellers offering their goods or services in exchange for money from buyers...

s including Nouakchott Silver Market, and the beach
A beach is a geological landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake or river. It usually consists of loose particles which are often composed of rock, such as sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles or cobblestones...

es. One beach is devoted to fishing boats where various species of fish can be bought fresh. The city also hosts the National Library
National library
A national library is a library specifically established by the government of a country to serve as the preeminent repository of information for that country. Unlike public libraries, these rarely allow citizens to borrow books...

 and National Archives. Nouakchott is the principal location in Africa for world distribution of native Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

n meteorite
A meteorite is a natural object originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. Meteorites can be big or small. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids...


There is a mosque donated by Saudi Arabia in the city centre, and a Moroccan mosque further south. Although Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

 is the state religion in Mauritania, Nouakchott includes the Cathedral of St. Joseph
Saint Joseph
Saint Joseph is a figure in the Gospels, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus Christ ....

, a Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

A cathedral is a Christian church that contains the seat of a bishop...

. It is home to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nouakchott, founded in 1965.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Nouakchott is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with: Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Tucson, Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

, USA Lanzhou Municipality
Lanzhou is the capital and largest city of Gansu Province in Northwest China. A prefecture-level city, it is a key regional transportation hub, allowing areas further west to maintain railroad connections to the eastern half of the country....

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

Amman is the capital of Jordan. It is the country's political, cultural and commercial centre and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The Greater Amman area has a population of 2,842,629 as of 2010. The population of Amman is expected to jump from 2.8 million to almost...

, Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...


External links

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